Earlier this year, I decided to read books differently. Instead of just plowing through them, I would pause and recap what I learned from each and how I could apply the lessons to my own life.

Simply put, that’s tougher than it sounds. I thought I could do a book a week, but I think half of that is a more realistic goal. (And I’m already a few behind of that pace, but I think I can catch up with some books already in progress.)

In January, I read Ikigai by Sebastian Marshall.

Last month, I finished Start With Why by Simon Sinek.

Quick Summary:

Essentially, this book dissects the reasons humans do what they do. It explains that people don’t buy WHAT you do, they buy WHY you do – when it aligns with their beliefs. But I’ll let Simon tell you that in his own words.

Key Insight #1:

Sinek explains, “When a company clearly communicates their WHY, and we believe what they believe, we will sometimes go to extraordinary lengths to include those products or brands in our lives. They become markers or symbols of the values and beliefs we hold dear. Those products and brands make us feel like we belong, and we feel a kinship with others who buy the same things.”

Key Insight #2:

“The goal of business should not be to simply sell to anyone who wants what you have, but rather to find people who believe what you believe. They will incorporate your products and services into their own lives as WHATs to their own WHYs. They look to what you do as a tangible element that demonstrates their belief to the world.”

Key Insight #3:

Further, Sinek shares, “An organization can’t survive by defining itself by WHAT it does. It must have a clear sense of WHY. Instead of asking, ‘what should we do to compete?’ the question should be ‘WHY did we start doing WHAT we’re doing in the first place, and WHAT can we do to bring our cause to life considering all of the technologies and market opportunities available today?”

Key Insight #4:

It’s important to note that finding WHY is a process of discovery, not invention. It has to come from the past.

This was a profound realization for me. I don’t think I’ve identified and completely articulated the underlying motivations in my life, but I’m much closer than I was just a few months ago. I’ve found this concept to be very powerful on both a personal and business level.

Key Insight #5:

This nugget focuses on a different area of personal development, but struck me as equally important, “All leaders must have two things: They must have a vision of the world that does not exist and they must have the ability to communicate it. Dr. King had a dream, not a plan.”

Personal Application:

This book has already affected every project I’m involved with. It completely explained much of the tension I’ve felt when things weren’t clearly aligned.

First, I feel like I need to resolve any ambiguity or mis-labeling of my personal underlying WHY. I’m close, but haven’t quite reached the level of clarity that I’m seeking. Then, I’ll go back and link each of those projects to my WHY, clearly outlining the connection. If that link isn’t apparent, I think I’m ready to eliminate the activity or rework it significantly.

I think I’ll be writing more about this in the coming weeks. I’d be interested in hearing your thoughts and feedback on this topic as well. It’s definitely opened up a whole new area of thinking for me.